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San Diego Comic-Con: A look back at the iconic history

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Posted at 5:03 PM, Jul 19, 2022

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – With San Diego Comic-Con just around the corner, what better time to look back at its storied history and how much it changed over the years.

But like every good story, it starts with an origin story.

In 1969, Sheldon Dorf, who had previously worked at a fan convention in Detroit, got the idea of creating something similar in San Diego. He invited a group of teenage comic book fans and presented his idea. Of course, the teens were skeptical about the whole thing until Dorf picked up the phone and called Jack Kirby, the man who co-created some of the most notable Marvel characters, like Captain America, which sold them on the idea.

Dorf, along with Richard Alf, Ken Krugger, Mike Towry, Bob Sourk, Barry Alfonso, and Dan Steward, made a trip to the home of Jack Kirby in Irvine, Calif. During that meeting, Kirby agreed to attend their first convention. He advised them not to limit their convention to just comics but also to include all other fandoms. That advice has helped SDCC thrive over the years.

The first Comic-Con

The first Comic-Con was held at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego, and there were actually two of them. The first one was held in March 1970 as a one-day event called San Diego's Golden State Comic-Minicon. The event's sole purpose was to gauge interest in this type of convention.

The event was successful, and they decided to hold a bigger three-day event in August of that same year called San Diego Golden State Comic-Con. Over 300 attendees packed in the basement of the hotel, which featured panels, programs, film screenings, and featured dealers. This became the model for comic conventions. The most notable featured guests included Forrest J Ackerman, Ray Bradbury, Kerby, Bob Stevens, and A. E. van Vogt.

An iconic name

The first few Comic-Cons operated under the name San Diego West Coast Comic Convention until 1973 before it was officially renamed the San Diego Comic-Con, while the non-profit's name was changed to Comic-Con International: San Diego in 1955.

FUN FACTS:

  • Comic-Con was held at the El Cortez Hotel in downtown San Diego until 1979 when it was held in the Performing Arts Center (CPAC). In 1991, it moved to the San Diego Convention Center, where it continues to be held.
  • The first Masquerade was held in 1974.
  • It was originally a Saturday-Monday convention.
  • Only five living people have attended every single convention: Mark Evanier, William Stout, Gene Henderson, Jackie Estrada, and Terry Stoud.
  • The first souvenir program cover was created by Jack Kirby.
  • Only twice has the con included the 4th of July (1991, 1996)
  • The Eye Logo was designed by Richard Bruning.
  • In 2005, SDCC broke the 100,000 attendees mark for the first time.
  • Hall H became a Comic-Con special, thanks to Twilight.

For more Comic-Con coverage, CLICK HERE.